Donald Glover is a rapper, singer, producer, actor, sketch comedian, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, director, TV star, movie star and prestige show runner who is finally experiencing bonafide pop culture stardom.
Glover is like Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. Hanks voices six different characters in the Christmas classic, so there isn’t a single scene that goes by without featuring him.
That’s kind of what it’s like to experience Donald Glover in pop culture today. Glover is not only involved in television, music and film, but he excels and is a prominent figure in all three industries.
Glover’s first real job in show business was in television as a writer for the revered NBC sitcom “30 Rock.” He later starred in a different, but also very popular NBC sitcom, “Community,” where he played a community college student named Troy. Glover also has his own Netflix comedy special titled, “Weirdo.”
In the music industry, Glover performs as his alter-ego “Childish Gambino,” a name that he recieved after using an online “Wu-Tang name generator.” As Gambino, Glover stumbled through several self-released mixtapes before signing with Glassnote Records in 2011. With Glassnote, Gambino released two rap albums, Camp and Because the Internet.
Gambino found true musical success with his third album. Awaken, my Love!, which was released in December 2016. This album differed from his previous ones because of its R&B style instead of rap. The song “Redbone,” was nominated for five Grammy awards in 2018, winning one for Best Traditional R&B performance.
Glover’s first effort in film was on Derrick Comedy, an NYU-based sketch crew, feature film called Mystery Team, which was released in 2009. The movie is cringe inducing, but it proves that Glover can carry anything, or at least go down in a blaze of glory.
Half a decade later, Glover began acting in more prominent films. For example, in 2015 he was in both Magic Mike XXL and the academy award-nominated film The Martian. Furthermore, in 2017 Glover had a cameo in the new Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
As his star power has risen, Glover has landed more prominent roles. He is playing Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story and is lending his voice to Simba for the Disney remake of The Lion King in 2019.
Glover’s greatest achievement to date is his television show “Atlanta,” which just started its second season on FX earlier in March. “Atlanta” was created by and stars Glover; he also serves as a writer, director and producer for the show.
The show follows two brothers navigating the Atlanta rap scene in order to improve both of their lives as well as their families’ lives. The show has received critical acclaim and is widely considered to be one of the best currently on television.
“Atlanta” netted two Primetime Emmy awards for its first season, including Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, which made Glover the first black director to win the award.
One can see from these achievements that Glover is a creative genius, and arguably the most talented person in Hollywood. He recently was interviewed for a piece that was published in The New Yorker where he addresses this idea.
When asked if there’s anything he is bad at he answered with a blunt, “To be honest, no.” He did continue, however, saying, “I do feel chosen. My struggle is to use my humanity to create a classic work.” This he very well may already have with “Atlanta,” and it will be thrilling to see future works from Glover.